One of the country’s most genial and influential chefs, Paul Prudhomme, died yesterday after a short illness. He was 75.
Prudhomme, a Louisiana native and youngest of 13 children, grew up around Cajun cooking and often helped his mom in the kitchen. Southern ingredients, flavors, and the kick of French, Spanish and African spices, brought Prudhomme’s culinary talents to the attention of the world. Over the years he has owned several restaurants including K-Pauls Louisiana Kitchen, written many cookbooks, and launched a line of his own blended spices in 1983.
After a long, cold winter, Chicago is ready to celebrate. Check out the city’s inaugural Food & Wine Festival August 28-30, 2015. Lots of premiere chefs (men and women!) are taking part. Tastings, classes, book signings, a twilight kick-off dinner and Saturday night party are all part of the offerings.
Sam Polk (center), founder of Groceryships, left a lucrative trading career on Wall Street to launch a nonprofit that helps families eat better.
In the last few years public figures and reporters have publicized attempts to eat decently on the amount of money received from a typical SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) allotment, which is about $4.30 per day. The stories vary widely in terms of lessons learned, strategies developed and unexpected hardships endured. Still, thriving or even surviving on food stamps is not a game to the nearly 46 million who depend on SNAP for their daily meals.
Sam Polk didn’t go this route. Instead the former Wall Street hedge fund trader entered the daunting world of public nutrition with a whole new premise — supplement the food budget with both cash and education. His two-year-old nonprofit, Groceryships, provides weekly $40 gift cards at Food 4 Less to struggling parents (mostly moms) for six months. Accompanying the cash are regular classes teaching nutrition, cooking and general healthy living concepts that are realistic and attainable to families who struggle to make ends meet.
The first group gathered in South L.A. every Wednesday night for six months. It was hard going at first–everyone felt awkward and a little suspicious about it all (free gift cards? what’s the catch?)–but by the third meeting as participant Helen Langley put it, “I took a breath and opened up. I don’t have a safe place … we made this a safe place.” At an emotional graduation, the women agreed that improving their families’ diets was a triumph beyond measure, attributable as much to the social connections formed as it was to the extra money.